This was a great cruise overall. As most know, the PNW weather can be iffy in the Fall and we surprisingly had amazing weather for this trip for late September/early October 2019. I didn't know what to pack (even though I live in ... Read More
This was a great cruise overall. As most know, the PNW weather can be iffy in the Fall and we surprisingly had amazing weather for this trip for late September/early October 2019. I didn't know what to pack (even though I live in the PNW) and even with the weather being good, I still didn't pack enough warm clothes for enjoying the outdoor space at sea. We had a balcony room (L301) and many days we sat on our balcony as we sailed away and I could have used more layers. However, days in port I was perfectly fine with capris, long sleeve, and a vest. But on the ship I needed to dress warmer. Layers would be my advice for future cruisers on this with gloves, scarf, hat, vest, coat, and some lighter clothing layers for warmer weather in port. But the weather was so nice on our first at sea day that we even could lay out in swimsuits, by the pool, heading south on our at sea day! But on our at sea day going north I used the atrium pool area as it was cooler. Go figure!
We stayed pre-cruise in downtown at our time share. We flew into Sea-Tac and took the light rail into the city (SO EASY if you've not used this before, and cheap!!!) (YouTube Seattle Light Rail system and it'll show you how easy)Then we walked to our resort and used Lyft to the port. Lyft dropped us right off at the ship where we boarded around 11:30am. Barely any lines, hardly any waiting, probably less than 30 minutes from drop off, to on the ship. Got on the ship and made our way to the Horizon Court for a buffet lunch. Seating was crowded indoors, so we sat on the back outside deck and had lunch. It was cooler, so needed our warm jackets & coffee during lunch. At 1pm it was announced that our rooms were ready and we made our way to our cabins where we were happy to see our luggage was waiting for us. Unpacked, and met up with the rest of our party to explore, do the muster drill, and then set sail.
Princess has an app that you can download on the ship that you can leave messages for one another via this app. Instructions are on a card in your stateroom about this. It was a little tricky to find our friends on the app (had to enter their number on their stateroom card directly to make them come up) but you can use this feature with Princess' wifi and not be charged. I had my phone on airplane mode while onboard, but wifi was on and we used this app for free. This is not the internet package through the ship. We could also call each others room number and leave messages on their in room phone as well, to communicate. We also had a cabin nextdoor to our friends, and our room steward opened the door, per our request, so we could sit on the balcony and visit.
Food on the ship was good. Buffet had the typical things, but for those who don't purchase a drink package and bring on your own hydro-flask or cup, you could get coffee, ice tea, and water in the buffet. They also had hot water and a huge variety of tea bags to choose from as well. I like flavored creamer, which isn't offered on the ship, so I just packed a small box of flavored creamer pods in my suitcase and took a couple to breakfast each day. I also brought on my own insulated coffee mug to keep my coffee warm and have a larger coffee cup to walk around the ship with my coffee in the mornings. My husband did purchase the soda package which was reasonable (under $10/per day) so he stayed hydrated via soda or other juices/mocktails, etc. We just purchased our own cocktails and drinks as needed as we couldn't justify the alcohol drink package for how little we drink. I did bring on the allowed 2 bottles of wine for my stateroom though (1 per person) & just asked my steward to bring me some wine glasses. There's a specialty coffee package that was $31 for 15 coffees, which is a good deal if you use all 15 coffees, which our friends bought one to share, but on a 7 day trip and quite a few days on shore, they left a few drinks un-punched on the card, so they didn't get all 15 drinks. I asked the person at the coffee stand if you could use the unused coffee punch card on a different Princess ship/sailing and he said no. So that didn't work in their favor. Now we did end up having lobster on our last formal night in the main dining room and Baked Alaska. That was very pleasant to know that Princess still has the lobster night, as many lines are doing away with lobster night. Some people don't care about this feature, we happen to book with the lines that still do this if the itinerary is what we want.
Ship was in decent shape. You can tell it's been used quite a bit. For instance we had a bit of carpet coming up along the edges of our stateroom. No big deal, it has mass amounts of people coming and going, so it's going to look used. But over all the ship still was beautiful and clean. We did not have a mini suite, so no couch in our room and the shower seemed extra small compared to the Celebrity ship we were on last year. The Star shower had a shower curtain that you had to make sure was inside the shower so not to soak your bathroom floor, which I did a few times unexpectedly. The shower also had wall mounted shampoo/cond combo, and body wash, also a small body lotion was provided on the bathroom counter. But the room was well appointed & clean, with a large closet and ample shelving and storage for our 7days. The bathroom this cruise had an overall outhouse smell, so I had brought on a small bathroom spray, which I used to mask that odd smell. I would have liked a counter standing bathroom scent to keep it smelling fresh throughout. But didn't know that we'd need it as I've never had that constant smell in our bathroom on a ship before. My parents were in a mini suite on dolphin deck and they had a full size shower/tub combo and couch area and 2 TVs vs our 1. However their balcony had zero cover on that dolphin level, which left them exposed to above cabins and weather. We had a nice over hang cover on our Lido deck balcony which was nice when it did sprinkle a bit, we could still make use of our balcony.
Entertainment was fine. Didn't go to all the shows and didn't make use of the lounges and all the entertainment going on around the ship as we visited with our party more on this trip than go to the shows. They had two comedians back to back, which was odd not to break those up a bit, one was much funnier than the other. The ships in house production show was ok, Celebrity did much better with this. But the Star isn't one of Princess top ships, so expected not to have the top entertainers, and that was just fine. It was worth our time to watch and we were entertained nicely. They did a fine job and we enjoyed going each night that we did. Walking around the ship we did hear other lounges having entertainment, which seemed fun. So there was lots to enjoy on the ship.
Didn't do any of Princess' excursions. Did our own in port by renting cars and walking food tours, and finding local breweries.
ASTORIA we had great weather, which doesn't always work out. Astoria is a lovely town with a fun river walk and lots of breweries. There was a $7 shuttle to go into the heart of town from the port that you could use as much as needed throughout the day. You aren't in town when you port and there's a good mile+ walk to get into town from port. Which is a nice walk on a clear day, but we opted for the shuttle.
SAN FRANSISCO, our highlight was to go under the Golden Gate Bridge. We went under both times in the dark and the bridge isn't lit up on the underside, so our pictures don't do it justice. The ship will go under the bridge depending on tides so the ship will fit under the bridge, we set our alarm clocks for 5am, and we actually went under at 6am. But again, we heard this could vary due to tides and nobody could give me exact times we'd be going under when we asked the night prior. We left port at 10pm. Both were the same experience going under the bridge, less crowded on the top deck in the morning, and very windy both times, more so leaving than coming in. But it could have been foggy just the same, so it was just lucky we had such a good experience with this. Luckily we had no fog or rain, so it was fun. We did Alcatraz on our own (bought tickets a few months early) and ported almost next door to the Alcatraz pier. Walking distance to Pier 39 as well. We did a Little Italy walking food tour on our own, which was SO FUN!!!
MONTEREY we rented a car to do the 17-mile drive and see Pebble beach, which was beautiful. We rented through Enterprise which had a shuttle van that picked you up in the pier parking lot. Had to call to find it, as it wasn't there and wasn't marked when we arrived, so we just had to wait. Some friends took an Uber to Carmel by the Sea, and am wondering if that would have been more time and cost efficient instead. But if you stay around the port area, you can easily walk and stay entertained close to the ship as well without going out of the area completely.
VICTORIA didn't have Uber, so we walked into the harbor area, which was a bit over a mile I'd guess, and very lovely and an easy walk. We've been to Victoria so didn't need to sight see, just popped into pubs and looked around the harbor area. Now, we left Victoria in the evening so we got back on the ship later, which meant all the shops on the ship were closed and stayed closed until we disembarked. We forgot this tidbit and left about $70 unused OBC because we couldn't use our OBC (except for drinks) in the shops, as I was thinking about getting a sweatshirt or something with our OBC. So keep that in mind if you have any OBC, use it up before the things on board close down and if you depart your port later. Just a reminder, which I knew, but forgot about until it was too late.
Disembarkation we opted to carry our own luggage off so we could keep our luggage with us the night before. They wanted us out of our rooms by 8am, so we quickly had breakfast in the buffet and then went and got our luggage and walked right off. Now, we opted to use the Lyft system to get back to the airport. They will not let Uber/Lyft drivers to come right up to the ship like they did dropping us off. You have to walk about 1/4 mile+ to get to the Uber/Lyft area. For my husband and I, that was no big deal. However for my parents who have mobility issues, that wasn't so great. They did it, but it was a struggle for them. Lyft will vary on cost, but it was about $30 for two of us to get to the airport, where the shuttles directly at the port were charging $30 per person to go to the airport. So for the short walk, it was worth it to us to use Lyft (which was consistently cheaper than Uber in Seattle this trip)
Overall, this was a very nice cruise and being from the PNW, it was very accessible to us and I'd easily do it again for a fast, cheaper week get away. The seas were calm going south and a tad rougher heading north, but bearable. But that could vary from time to time. The ship was lovely, staff was nice, food was decent. Overall would book again! Read Less